cover image Calde of the Long Sun

Calde of the Long Sun

Gene Wolfe. Tor Books, $22.95 (381pp) ISBN 978-0-312-85583-3

If ever an SF writer's work justified semiotic analysis, it is Wolfe's incredibly detailed narratives, interwoven with frequent temporal backtracking that requires meticulous attention. This third volume of a projected four in the Long Sun series (after Nightside the Long Sun and Lake of the Long Sun) continues Patera Silk's quest to save his ``manteion,'' or temple, in the Holy City of Viron from the villainous Blood and to bring peace to The Whorl, a starship so large most of its inhabitants believe they live on a planet. Silk discovers Blood's origin and deals with the ruling Ayuntamiento (with plenty of violent and pyrotechnic action) while readers gain a deeper understanding of several characters-especially Silk, Maytera Rose and one Colonel Oosik. Several incidental details (the term ``calde,'' for instance) hint at a Muslim background, but the action-especially the assault on the Bastille-like Alambrera-suggest events of the French Revolution. This volume can be read independently, but readers familiar with previous volumes may better appreciate the earlier themes reiterated here. Still, the narrative, even in its deliberate moments of misdirection, is resonant and pleasurable. (Sept.)